Pak shifting troops from Afghan to Indian border will be “very damaging” to US interests

Washington, Feb 2(ANI): US Assistant Secretary of State for Central and South Asian Affairs Robert Blake has appreciated Pakistan for deploying approximately 140,000 troops from its Indian border to the Afghan border, and said re-deployment of Pakistani troops back to the eastern border would be "very damaging" to American interests.

In an interview with WRVO Radio, Blake remarked that encouraging better ties between Pakistan and India had become particularly important in the post-9/11 world, and referred to the escalation of tensions between the two regional powers in the wake of the November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

Were such an incident to take place again, Blake feared, the subsequent situation would be "very damaging" to US interests.

He explained his point by highlighting Pakistan's vital anti-terror role along the Afghan border, and said any movement of deploying its troops back to the eastern border with India would be a setback to the counter-terrorism effort.

"The Pakistanis have been very good about redeploying approximately 140,000 troops from their Indian border to the Afghan border, where these sanctuaries are, where a lot of the groups that are attacking our troops in Afghanistan are based. So it's very important that they maintain that focus and that they, if anything, increase the number of troops going into that area," the Daily Times quoted Blake, as telling the radio broadcaster during a visit to New York.

"Were there to be another attack like that, of course they'd have to re-deploy many troops back to the Indian border, and that would certainly not be in our interest," he added.

Talking about US ties with India and Pakistan, Blake said Washington had a very significant multi-dimensional relationship with New Delhi, but Islamabad was also "equally important".

"My piece of this is to help on the India-Pakistan side where we have a great interest in promoting better ties between our two friends," he said.

"We've always said that it's important for them to determine the pace and the scope and the character of how they will improve their relations, but again, we can always offer ideas," he added, without elaborating on the peace ideas.

Mumbai News

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